A colonoscopy is a procedure used to detect abnormalities in the colon, rectum and lower intestines. During a colonoscopy, your doctor can both detect potentially cancerous growths, called polyps, and remove them.
What to Expect When You Have a Colonoscopy
Before the procedure, your doctor will discuss fasting for 24 hours to clear the bowels. They will also prescribe a laxative to ensure your bowels are completely clear before your colonoscopy for better examination.
During the colonoscopy, you will be sedated. Your doctor will insert a long endoscopic camera called a colonoscope into your rectum and colon to view inside. If your doctor finds polyps or needs to take a tissue sample for biopsy, they can do so during the procedure, rather than scheduling a follow-up.
After your colonoscopy, you’ll be in recovery until the sedatives wear off. You may experience gas or cramping; in some cases, you may notice blood in your stool if you had tissue or polyps removed.
Colonoscopy Screening Requirements
Colonoscopies to screen for cancer are recommended for all people every 10 years beginning at age 45. If you have a history of colon cancer or other medical issues, your doctor may recommend you begin screening at a younger age or with more frequency. Speak with you insurance provider before scheduling your colonoscopy to make sure you meet their age and risk requirements for screening.